Anger was the overriding emotion on social media as news came through regarding the death of Rashan Charles following a car and foot chase and his apprehension in a local shop. Yet the anger wasn't just that of some within the black community. It was, and is, also evident among police officers and those who support police officers as allegations of 'racist police murderers' flew around Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. Other views veered from little sympathy for 'drug dealers' to those whose forthright views could only be described as racist.
As the term murderers was banded about, police officers across the country and especially in London could only surmise how much more difficult this incident would make their task of 'keeping the lid' on a United Kingdom riddled with tensions.
The death of Rashan was linked with that of Edir Frederico Da Costa who died following a vehicle stop by police. Following the death of Edir, the IPCC, faced with a potentially violent protest at Forest Gate, revealed that the rumours of him suffering traumatic injuries at the hands of the arresting officers, were untrue.
The protest, however, still turned violent and only after a difficult few hours when police were faced with 'nose to nose' abuse and missile throwing did it emerge that arresting officers were frantically removing packages from Edir's throat as they tried to revive him. The circumstances of his arrest bore all the hallmarks of a pre-planned police operation.
As with Edir, the IPCC and the Met also referred to a package being removed from Rashan's throat but there is still no information in either case as to whether drugs were actually present. Certainly, I have seen and been involved in far more violent arrests than that which we saw on CCTV.
The fact that there were so many unanswered questions in respect of Rashan's death combined with the furore against police created by activists on social media meant that some form of disorder was almost inevitable. It occurred last Friday evening close to where Rashan died and whilst prolonged, only involved, at most, 200 youths.
Fears that all Hackney gangs would participate and this would spread to other parts of London and perhaps the country, proved groundless to the relief of front line officers who have concerns as to whether the police could cope with rioting on the scale of that witnessed in 2011.
A further strong statement asking for restraint from Rashan's family may well have poured oil over troubled waters at least in Hackney but clearly tensions remain.
The Tragedy Of Three On A Moped.
In between these two deaths, a 16-year-old youth, allegedly one of three youths on a stolen moped, died when the moped crashed into a police car. The youths had allegedly been involved in earlier robberies and were allegedly in possession of two large knives.
It was only with Rashan's death did many realise that the 16-year-old who died in the moped crash was also black. A 15-year-old was arrested on his release from hospital and has been bailed. Certainly, at any forthcoming trial and inquest it will be revealed whether the youths wore helmets or not. This could determine whether the officers were able to identify whether in fact, they were black.
Doubtless, in the fullness of time, the IPCC will come to decisions in all three cases and papers may or may not be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service. It could be that full details might only emerge at the respective trials and/or inquests which could be months or years away.
Activists will of course, in the interim and in the absence of any further information from the IPCC have a field day. All police will be labelled as 'racist' and police officers in many areas of London will be abused and their safety imperilled at a time when assaults on police are escalating in both frequency and severity.
Carnage and Operation Sceptre
Police officers are only too well aware of the devastating effect that deaths, such as those above, will have on families and loved ones.
In all three cases, police fought desperately to keep the individuals alive. Fighting to keep individuals alive after traumatic incidents such as stabbings and shootings is now very much a part of front line policing and, in many parts of London, these unfortunate victims are disproportionately black or of mixed race, a fact which is very occasionally acknowledged by some black activists.
The rising levels of violence on the streets resulted in the Met embarking on Operation Sceptre, which, however it is spun, was essentially an intelligence led stop and search operation. Whilst the Met haven't produced overall figures, it is likely that these stop and search operations would have slowed both the rate of knife and gun crime. One report speaks of 500 arrests in a week.
Logic suggests that the arrests and the hundreds of knives seized will have saved lives and prevented life threatening and life changing injuries from across the communities but principally from within the black community who, as stated, suffer disproportionately from knife and gun crime.
From the activists, however there will no praise just the usual mantra concerning 'racist police' while the media will continue to seek out and distort stories that will damage the police service.
Shortly after these incidents, the IPCC published a report on deaths involving police contact which resulted in eye catching headlines with no attempt at any analysis as to why this was the case.
The Independent, just days ago, also had a field day with footage of armed police 'caught on camera' after stopping a vehicle containing black youths. Gang social media showed a greater sense of responsibility with a number of individuals pointing out that police probably believed they might be armed. The journalist responsible has thus far, not responded to an invitation to watch armed police in training.
It most certainly wasn't, as stated in the Independent's headline, a traffic stop! The two youths were arrested on suspicion of drugs supply, money laundering and possession of an offensive weapon.
Whatever the result of the IPCC enquiry and whatever attempts police make to safeguard communities, including black youths, the activists will continue to shout 'racists' which in turn will impact on police trying to recruit officers from BME communities: And, in all honesty, I do not know any serving or retired police officer who does not want more black and other minority ethnic officers in the force.
Finally Black Lives Matter made this statement suggesting intervention when any police arrest is witnessed.
Presumably that includes making life difficult for police where a suspect is arrested for a racially aggravated assault on an individual from the black or other minority community.